Sexism and Resistance to Women Involvement

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Sexism and Resistance to Women Involvement

Below is a list of questions to serve as a starting framework for the discussion in this thread:

  • Just because women are at the table does not mean that they are given power. What are strategies for ensuring that women’s voices are heard and respected?
  • What are strategies to prepare women with limited prior experience in government for official roles in peacebuilding?
  • Buy-in from other parties is essential for progress; how can women cultivate support and/or acceptance for their agendas despite sexism, social norms, and other actors’ reluctance to relinquish power?
Combatting sexism and resistance to women's involvement

It is a failure of international institutions and actors, that lead or are involved in peace negotiations when they do not insist on increased/equal participation of women in peacemaking processes.  Understanding that getting conflicting sides to the table is difficult, not insisting on meaningful participation of women dooms the process to failure before it starts. 

Gaps between WPS resolutions and actual implementation

I completely agree. The UN has many international tools to support women's inclusion such as UNSC 1325 and its susequent resolutions, The CEDAW...etc, however, often the UN led peace processes fail to include women in meaningul way. In my opinion, it is mainly due to the traditional patriarichal philosofy of the ceasefires and peacebuilding processes. 

Proactive inclusion

No peace table (or government body, or commission, power structure, or even office environment for that matter) ends up with gender balance by accident. Proactive steps must be taken -- both to bring women to the table and then to ensure that they are able to participate and that their views are included. Curious to hear people's experiece about what works?

Yemen Case

In Yemen, we have both a successful model of inclusion and a failed model of inclusion. After the Yemen Arab spring, and during the transitional period, women almost secured 30% representation in the National Dialogue. It was a fair result of their struggle and role in leading demonstrations to change the regime. The Global Study on Women, Peace, and Security, attributed the sucess of inclusion of women during that period to four elements: 1) Demands of the women's movement 2) the UN Envoy role in structuring and designing the national dialogue which imposed a qouta for women's representation 3) international community pressure 4) and political will of national actors. 

The Yemeni society is a very conservative society with traditional gender roles paradigm. The inclusion of women during the national dialogue was not smooth. The women were regularly attacked through smear campaigns. There were objections for including women's rights including for example discussin setting the safe age of marriage. However, those campaigns faded away and the Yemeni women were able to lead in the national dialogue process and produce a historic package of rights and freedoms. 

As the war broke, women's participation deteriorated. From the four elements that led to teh sucess in inclusion of women, only the womne's movement continue to demand for inclusion.

Efforts led by the UN to mediate for peace falls short when it comes to inclusion of women. The negotiation delegations have not respected the no less than 30% qouta and the UN Envoys did not impose the qouta on parties. International allies have not yet serisouly stepped in to pressure for women's inclusion. 

We have been calling and demanding for inclusion of women. See our joint letter to the UN Envoy earlier this year: 

We issued reactives condemning the failure to include women:

The current UN Envoy has attempted to respond to improve women's inclusion. He recentlhy annouced the formation of a women's technical advisory group. However, we beleive that this is a participation on the sideline and continuiing to support women on the sidelines is contributing to feeding into the perception that women rights are secondary and that women are not peace leaders. 

I have also had the opportunity to brief the UN Security Council where I focused my brief on Women's Rights and importance of inclusion:

Yemen's upcoming peace consultations are taking place this week in Sweden and we hope the UN Envoy and negotiation delegations are listening to women's demands. 


Lobbying UN for better inclusion

I agree with the posts above that UN peacebuilders have not effectively implemented their WPS obligations to promote and include more women peacemakers in internationalised peace processes. Arguably, part of the problem is that the UN itself is a heavily male dominated organisation, especially in areas such as peacekeeping operations. Women's activists are encouraged to increase the pressure on key Member States (eg. UK, US, Nordics. Russia) plus the UN Sec-Gen to promote more women into these structures. The UN should also be encouraged to REQUIRE that all SRSGs, deputies and senior peace operations staff are given compulsory training on ensuring gender sensitivity in all aspects of peacebuilding. As i understand it, there is some ad hoc training, but at the very least, they should be required to do a 1-day course on these issues. SRSG and their staff's KPIs should also include gender balance / inclusion as at least one key performance measure on which they are to be judged.

I agree with comments above

I agree with comments above re: women and peacekeeping. I'm compelled by examples like this one -- the recipient of the annual United Nations Female Police Officer of the Year Award (formerly known as the International Female Police Peacekeeper Award). Congrats to UN Police Officer Ms. Phyllis Ama Tebuah Osei, from the United Nations Mission in Somalia. 

It is practical suggestions (like helping women get driver's licenses) that, when coupled with political will and policy changes, will turn the tide.

Her recommendations:

1. Eliminate the barriers to qualify for the job (for instance in Ghana, the police service offered driving classes to women police offers as a drivers license is required for service in United Nations missions)

2. Make sure women officers feel empowered to bring new ideas and approaches to their managers

3. Shine a light on the direct contributions of women peacekeepers, in particular how they gain the trust of local police and communities and improve protection of civilians — it will encourage other women to apply.

Source: Kristina Koch, Chief of Field Mission Recruitment at United Nations


Women need to be prepared for "peace" and "democracy"

As i noted in a separate post, one key strategy for ensuring women's voices are heard is for women to be PREPARED to engage once peacebuildng and/or democratic transition processes begin to move forward. Anecdotally, women have often not been prepared with written submissions as policy positions, which has made it harder for them to effectively advocate for what they want, once the opportunity finally presented itself. If women can prepare submissions - particulary in the context of post-conflict constitutional reform processes - this could be quite impactful, particularly in terms of embedding constitutional non-discrimination clauses. affirmative action quotas in government and/or gender-sensistive governance.